Coronavirus: UK-France quarantine Holidaymakers face rush to return


Home by 4 a.m. or face 14-day’s quarantine

Thousands of British citizens holidaying in France face travel chaos to get home and avoid 14 days of quarantine on their return. France has vowed to reciprocate after the UK reimposed the quarantine regulation.

The UK government declared the change, which will likely spark a mass exodus among the estimated half a million British holidaymakers currently in France, after a rise in coronavirus cases there.

The British government has said all travellers from France and the Netherlands will again have to quarantine for 14 days, triggering a likely mass exodus among the estimated 160,000 UK citizens currently holidaying across the Channel.

“Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba from our list of coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN,” transport minister Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter.

If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Travel difficulties

Getlink, which runs the Channel Tunnel rail service between Britain and France, warned travelers they might not be able to get back in time to avoid quarantine, as services were heavily booked.

John Keefe, Getlink’s director of public affairs, said trains were “already pretty much fully booked” on Friday.

No direct flights between Paris to London were available on many travel sites.

Shares in airlines have fallen at the news of the reimposed quarantine regulation, with British Airways owner IAG down 6% and budget carrier EasyJet down 7%.

The move is a big blow to France’s tourism industry, which benefits greatly from the large number of visitors from Britain. French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune, said it was “a British decision we regret and which will lead to a reciprocal measure.”

This comes after the French government declares Paris, Marseille high-risk zones

The French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille and its surrounding area high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localised curbs to contain the spread of the disease.

The declaration, made in a government decree, follows a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections in France over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Paris and Marseilles had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.

The Netherlands and four other countries were also added to the UK quarantine list that already included Spain and Belgium.

Making Paris and Marseille red zones could have a major impact on tourism, as it could lead other countries to impose quarantines on their citizens returning from those areas.

What are the quarantine rules?

The full list of countries exempt from quarantine rules has been updated regularly.You don’t need to self-isolate if you travel through a non-exempt country, as long as you don’t stop in the country to get out of the car and no one else gets in.Or if you are on public transport, you are exempt from quarantine if no new passengers get on while in the non-exempt country and no passenger mixes with people outside or enters a public space at a stop.

The government has published a list of ”lower risk” countries that can be visited without the need to self-isolate on returning to England.Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can make their own quarantine rules, but they are usually similar.Travellers from affected countries – including UK nationals – are asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to provide these details. One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules. People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and £480 in Scotland. There are fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

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